Rampage (2006) Poster


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My #1 pick of the Festival of New Cinema is the new Georges Gittoes documentary, Rampage,
Director Fred Eger7 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Reviewer Frederic Eger has selected his top picks to critique.


My #1 pick of the Festival of New Cinema is the new Georges Gittoes documentary, Rampage, about the Lovett brothers, Denzell (Himself), Elliott (Himself), and Marcus (Himself), who live in "The Brown Sub" of Miami, Florida. This is an area "on the other side of " Miami Beach where the rich folks live.

A viewer's first thought upon sitting down to watch might be: "Oh, come on another story about those poor African-Americans victimizing themselves." Not the case. George Gittoes explores the nature and level of violence that African-Americans experience on a daily basis and makes a comparison with the violence a U.S. soldier experiences in Iraq.

Elliott Lovett plays a soldier returning from Iraq to visit his family. The entire family are talented rappers, especially Marcus and Denzel. Mr. Gittoes' film witnesses a family tragedy and feels some responsibility: "That's the problem when you shoot a documentary�you're talking about real lives. The jealousy that generated the documentary, following Lovett's daily lives, might be the cause of Marcus' death."

The documentary was shot with shoulder and hand cameras and confirms the suffering of African-Americans in 2006. The editing, photography, music and all aesthetic choices gives the viewer the impression that you are with these kids, and you sympathize with them and you tell yourself: "This is unbelievable; this is happening today in one of the supposedly most civilized and rich countries of the world�the United States of America."

One of Australia's foremost figurative painters, Georges Gittoes literally uses the camera like a paint brush. With a compassionate humanity and truthful reporting, he tells the story of the Lovett family. From beginning to end, the film will open your eyes to realities that you may already know but that the film will confirm about black folk in the ghettos.

Rampage Written, directed and produced by Georges Gittoes

With Denzell Lovett (Himself,) Elliott Lovett (Himself,) Marcus Lovett (Himself)
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this is hip-hop
rettercritical18 March 2008
Rampage (2006)

George Gittoes is a well-known Australian painter and filmmaker. A lot of his painting is related to war and so to are his films. Rampage started when the director was in Iraq Making the documentary Soundtrack To War (2005). He met Elliot Lovett, a young African American soldier who was a rap artist. Elliot was one of an number of people focused on in Soundtrack To War (2005) but the twenty something rapper told Gittoes that Miami is "more dangerous than the streets of Baghdad".

In Rampage (2006), George Gittoes is introduced to Elliot's hometown of Brown Sub in Miami and meets all the family and friends who live in the eye of the storm. Elliot has two younger brothers Marcus and Denzell. Almost everyone creates hip-hop in this documentary, not recorded in a studio but off the cuff when hanging out together. Some of this music would be written and much of it "freestyle" or improvised. It is simply a part of their lives.

The film starts quite joyously. The first third simply follows the young people hanging out and having fun. This part of the film really captures a wonderful spirit in the young people of this film. Gittoes follows this group while standing out as an older, white outsider with a camera but he does his best to fit in. Gittoes might be from another world to these African American youth but he is allowed inside to capture its essence. The director shows little pretension and I believe this is why the film successfully portrays the characters and situation. He is just strait up about what he wants to do which is make the documentary.

During the film, tragedy strikes. Somebody is shot and this changes everything. I will not add any further to this and will just let you watch the film.

Denzell is the younger brother and a very promising hip-hop artist. He is 14 years old and is rapping about guns and death like older rappers 50 cent and Snoop Dog. He journeys to all the top record companies with his stories and rhymes. His talent is undeniable but his graphic subject matter and course language is questioned because of his youth. In the offices of some of the biggest hip-hop producers, Denzell is described as gifted and the future of rap. Despite all his violent lyrics based on where he comes from it becomes a challenge to get signed by the record labels.

What the documentary achieves is a raw look at a part of America we usually only see on COPS or in a Hollywood version. There is obvious negativity in these ganglands but Rampage shows us the positive side, which is a fertile place of creativity and culture. Rap music proves to be enmeshed in the lives of these young people. Rampage shows us where this music comes from. For a white Australian like my friends and me it is fascinating and valuable to see the real thing because our musical culture is now heavily influenced by the commercial rap, R&B genres.

Structurally the film is not perfect. The film gets to a point where it is unable to go anywhere further. This is partly due to the realistic and honest style refusing to create an artificial peek or arc. Perhaps the film peeks earlier than one would like but the result is still a very raw entertaining experience. This is at times a wonderful window into a family that we usually only see a one sided view of. It is also access to the world of Brown Sub with gold teeth, guns, shotgun scars and the biggest wheels I have ever seen on a car! The music is delivered with a strong attitude. If you like music see this film. If you like 8 Mile or films about hip-hop you should see the real thing. I compare this film to the excellent rap doco Freestyle (2000), which is a detailed overview of the art of freestyling. Rampage (2006) is not an overview having a clear focus on a particular family of rap artists and this is the films strength.

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I wasn't expecting this to be so good
robert_j_deane3 November 2007
I picked up a copy of Rampage at my local DVD store because I thought it was a movie, not a documentary. The idea of a movie about rappers coming back from the Iraq war and seeing parallels with their own war-torn suburbs was interesting.

As soon as it started I saw it was in fact a documentary, and I got a sinking feeling that I had been duped. I re-checked the DVD case and in tiny lettering at the bottom of the back cover there it was "documentary".

I continued watching anyway, and pretty soon I was enthralled. The documentary was bizarre for a few reasons. First off I wasn't expecting a documentary about US rappers to be written by an Australian, nor was I expecting to see anything new in a film about gang violence in the United States.

The documentary is set mostly in a poor mainly African American suburb in Miami. I had no idea Miami was as racially divided as it apparently is.

Documentary maker George Gittoes follows a US soldier he met while filming footage in the Iraq war. The soldier had told Gittoes his hometown was just as dangerous as Iraq, so the Australian journalist wanted to find out for himself.

It seems the soldier wasn't lying, and we see first hand how people in his suburb live, and how they cling to rapping as their one chance to get the hell out of there, especially one rather cute, troubled 14-year-old.
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